The Daily Pilot - BY MATT SZABO
Paul Norris has been training surfers in fitness for more than 15 years and at his current Surf Ready Fitness location in west-side Costa Mesa for 11 years.
In that time, he’s seen the evolution of surf fitness.
“When I first started training surfers in Huntington [Beach] 15 years ago, I don’t want to say it was looked down upon, but nobody believed in it outside of our circle,” Norris said. “A lot of the old surf coaches would just say to surf more to surf better. But I knew from my background in sports performance training that there were things that we could do on land to help them in the water.”
Norris, who lives in Newport Beach, built a successful business working with future stars like two-time U.S. Open of Surfing champion and Huntington Beach native Kanoa Igarashi. Soon he started getting emails and direct messages from surfers all over the world.
They were asking how they could take advantage of the workouts and exercises that the gym provides, and Norris didn’t have a good answer.
“Back in the day I would create a PDF profile, with photos of exercises, and try to get that out to people,” he said. “I never had the right system set up. Last year I decided I wanted to create an app that surfers could use, kind of a one-stop shop for surf fitness, with programs and workouts and exercises that I’ve come up with and designed over the last 15 years.”
Norris and longtime gym buddy Komron Tarkeshian created a Surf Ready Fitness app and equipment bundle. Norris calls it in the “soft launch” phase, with no real postings on social media about it, though the app already has about 200 subscribers.
The app, which features workouts for both veteran surfers and beginners, costs $9.99 per month. The fitness kit comes in a 22-liter dry bag backpack and includes tools like a stability ball and pump, resistance bands, a speed rope and a TRX suspension trainer. It costs $249 plus tax and includes three free months on the app.
Newport Beach pro surfer Tyler Gunter, 23, has been working with Norris for years and surfs on the World Surf League Qualifying Series. Gunter was in the Surf Ready Fitness on a recent day for a training session and has contests in Florida and the Caribbean in his sights.
His training bag is definitely coming with him.
“I’m about to leave for a month,” Gunter said. “When you’re on the road, you don’t always have a way to work out, the equipment and things that you need. Having Paul’s bag is amazing, just being able to set it up anywhere in a hotel room, an Airbnb. It’s easy to use, there’s not too many pieces, and along with the app you can do hundreds of workouts it seems like.”
Because Norris knows the equipment that’s in the dry bag, it’s easy to construct exercises on the app to go along with that. Costa Mesa pro surfer Shelby Detmers, 28, doesn’t currently use the equipment on the road, but that could change in the future.
Detmers’ surf coach, Christian Saenz, recommended that she start coming to Surf Ready Fitness to take her surfing to the next level. At the time, she was mainly just doing yoga for fitness, but she’s been coming to the gym since December.
Detmers, a Newport Harbor High graduate who has dual citizenship with Mexico and surfs for that country’s national team, has started seeing a difference.
“I feel stronger in every way,” she said. “Your body’s strong, your mind is strong. It’s all very connected. I feel myself pulling off tricks that normally I would fall on, whereas now I have more stability and strength. That’s what surfing is really all about, strength and staying on a surfboard. With that also comes the mental aspect of it, the confidence which helps you get to the next level.”
So Norris’ kit and app offer confidence on the go. He said the feedback from surfers he works with has been good. On one recent weekend, Norris took his dry bag snowboarding with him in Colorado.
“In hindsight, it was such a genius idea,” he said. “There’s nothing on the market like this.”